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May 24, 2024 10 mins
Philadephia has the highest poverty rate of the nation’s big cities. The Greenlight Fund Philadelphia  is addressing this issue by finding community-based organizations making a difference and supplying them support to tackle economic and racial inequities, remove barriers and life individuals and families out of poverty. I speak to The GreenLight Fund Philadelphia’s Executive Director Felicia Rinier about their approach and the organizations they’re currently supporting.
 greenlightfund.org
 Hopeworks - Launched in 2022, focus area: digital equity
The Fountain Fund- Launched in2023, Focus Area: economic support for returning citizens
Single Stop - Launched in 2013, Focus Area: Degree Completion/Access to Benefits
Year Up - Launched in 2013, Focus Area: Youth Career Readiness
Center for Employment Opportunities - 2015, Focus Area: Early Literacy
ParentChild+ - Launched in 2016, Focus Area:
Compass Working Capital - Launched in 2018, Focus Area: Assets Building  
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Episode Transcript

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(00:00):
Good morning and welcome to Insight,a show about empowering our community. I'm
Lorraine ballad Morrow. The Distinguished YoungGentleman is a very special organization that teaches
young men as myself and a fewof my friends to learn etiquette across the
board and how to treat people,and learn how to sort things out without

(00:20):
struggling, and learn how to livewithout trying to. It helps you stay
on the right track. Yes,I had a chance to speak to a
group of middle school young men dressedimpeccably in suit and tie as members of
a mentoring group that teaches courtesy,life lessons and more. Did you know
that skin cancer impacts people of Africandescent? Will tell you what you need

(00:42):
to know. I speak to thePennsylvania Coalition of Culturally Competent Providers, INC,
an organization dedicated to promoting culturally competentpolicies, practices, programs, and
services for marginalized populations in the cityof Philadelphia and surrounding counties. And we'll
tell you how to act says Resourcesfor mental health that allow you to conduct

(01:03):
a checkup from the neck up forfree. But first, so what does
green light mean to you? WhenI was a kid, green light meant
go. It was red light,green light, and when you got the
green light, you would go afew steps. And then when I said
red light, you had to freeze. And so when I found out about
an organization called green Light Fund Philadelphia, I said, hmm, that's a

(01:25):
great way to create an image ofgoing forward. And going forward is exactly
what they do and supporting organizations,community organizations that help individuals and families achieve
inclusive prosperity. How does that happen? Well, let's talk about it with
Felicia Rainier, who is executive directorof the green Light Foundation. Thank you

(01:48):
so much for joining us today.I am very happy to be here.
Thank you for having me. Well, so, for those who've never heard
of you, who are you?Yes, So, I am Felly Scherneer
and I am the executive director ofgreen Light Fund Philadelphia. Tell us what
you do and how you do it? Absolutely so. Every year green Light
Fund runs a process where in thebeginning we're working in deep partnership with our

(02:08):
community members, different nonprofit organizations reallyto hear from them what are the most
acute needs in Philadelphia right now?And we get very clear on where are
there gaps and services related to addressingthose needs? Because the next phase of
our process, and I think thisis where green Light is really unique in
our in our model, is thatonce we have like our focus areas and

(02:31):
we have you know, where arethere gaps and services, we then will
look outside of Philadelphia for innovative nonprofitsthat are doing awesome work elsewhere that really
need to be in Philadelphia right tohelp with some of the challenges that we're
seeing. And you know, werun that process every year and now in
Philadelphia we have seven organizations that we'vebeen able to invest in to come to

(02:53):
Philly to help alleviate some of thechallenges that we're that we're seeing here.
Well, you know, Philadelphia,as you know and the world knows,
is the city the largest city withthe worst poverty. We're the big city
with the worst poverty. And sofor decades and even longer, people have
been looking at that issue and tryingto figure out how do we raise people

(03:13):
out of poverty? And so Iguess the question that someone might ask of
the green Light Fund is how doyou measure your success? How effective are
you in helping individuals and families raisethemselves? Out of poverty. Absolutely.
So once we decide which organization we'regoing to invest in to come here to
Philadelphia, we actually sit down withthem and get very clear on what does

(03:38):
success look like you know, forthe for the organization and more than that,
what does what does success look likefor the families right that we're that
we're here to help, and weput together quite frankly, like key performance
indicators right where it's like, hereare the things that we are bringing you
to Philly to do. Like ourpromise to the Philadelphians is that we're going
to bring these organizations here to helpwith. Maybe it's early childhood education,

(03:59):
maybe it is support for folks whoare coming home from jailer from prison.
So we get very clear on whatour success goals are and then we have
metrics you know that that point tothose and then I'll work with those organizations
that you know, we're brought hereto Philly almost on a monthly basis sometimes
more to really get clear on,okay, like are we hitting you know,
the these KPIs that we set outto hit in the beginning, and
if not, you know, likewhat type of course direction can we do

(04:21):
to make sure that at the endof the day, we are fulfilling our
promise to Philadelphians and that we arebringing this organization for a very specific reason
and want to make sure that thatwe're being true to that, you know,
along every step of the process.Yeah, so give us some examples
of success stories. Absolutely, yes, yes, yes. So. Our
two most recent investments are with anorganization called the Fountain Fund, and they're

(04:45):
actually based in Charlottesville, Virginia,and are operating now here in Philadelphia.
And what they do is provide verylow interest loans, usually around the three
percent rate, to folks who arepreviously incarcerated. And these loans are for
self identified needs that are going tohelp the individual and their family elevate.
So for example, that could befor you know, going back to school

(05:06):
for education, maybe for a carloan so that they can you know,
get to and from work. Perhapsit's for rent, you know, just
like making sure that they can thenpay their rent. The beauty of the
Fountain Fund is that once folks receiveloans, because there is an interest rate,
when they're paying it back, itactually gets put back into a loan
fund that gets issued out to otherfolks who are coming home, so it's
almost like they're paying it forward,which are the really cool model. And

(05:28):
right now we have I think it'salmost eighty loans that we've issued here in
Philadelphia across all those those varied things, right that I mentioned, and I
just love speaking to. So they'recalled client partners, the folks that receive
loans from the Fountain Fund, andjust hearing from them to say that,
you know, the Fountain Fund wasthe first organization that said yes to me.
You know, a lot of timeswhen folks are coming home, there's
a ton of barriers, right thatthey have to overcome, and the Fountain

(05:50):
Fund really is there to help toremove some of those barriers in the form
of access to capital. You know, for these individuals, that's a Fountain
fun And then I'm going to shoutout Hope Works, who I think a
lot of folks in Philadelphia are veryfamiliar with. I always have to chuckle,
Lorraine, because you know, ourprocess is to bring things into Philly
that are not yet here. AndHope Works is based in Camden, New

(06:10):
Jersey, right, so people arefor like that's like fifteen minutes outside the
city, Yes, but it's not. I wasn't in Philadelphia, you know
first, So now they are inKensington, and it was actually just announced
they received a one million dollar anonymousgift to actually expand their space in Kensington.
So now they're going to be servingI think it's between like one hundred
and fifty and two hundred of theirparticipants. And really their goal is to
help young adults get trained in fieldsthat are going to produce like high wage

(06:33):
jobs. Right, so a lotof their young adults when they come through
Hopework stores, perhaps they're making likea few hundred dollars a year. They
might be experiencing homelessness, like maybethey didn't you know, complete their their
high school education. But Hope Workswhat I love about them is that they
open their doors to any young adultwho wants to make a change in their
life, and once they go throughHopeworks program, they really come out on

(06:54):
the other side with like jobs thatare now starting at like the fifty thousand
dollars salary, maybe sixty or seventy, So truly like life changing and transformational
for the participants that are, youknow, coming through a Hope Works program.
Yeah, those are two great examples, and I love the first example.
I love, because I've seen thatmodel done before with the with Action
aids where they give micro loans topeople and they're not really actually in this

(07:16):
case they're grants. But it's surprisinghow a couple one hundred dollars or maybe
one thousand dollars can make all thedifference, you know, from someone sleeping
on a mattress in an apartment theycan't afford, or you know, being
able to have a place to resttheir head. I mean, it can
really be life changing. And toprovide the opportunity in Kensington, which is

(07:36):
in such great need, to givethe potential for life sustaining jobs, that's
the key. Is huge. It'shuge, yeah, for sure. So
how do we help you help?Yeah? Absolutely so right now, lareen
in terms of like how green Lightworks. So we raise all the money
that we grant to our portfolio organizationdwell in advance. Right, so if

(07:58):
you take like a five year cycle, for those years we're running that process
that I described, and then we'llpause for one year to raise our fund
right to raise the dollars that we'regoing to be then you know, issuing
to these organizations. So really,to anybody listening, if you know folks
that maybe aren't as familiar with GreenlightFund, which I think is most people.
I feel like a lot of peoplereally don't know about about green Light.

(08:18):
So a lot of what I'm doingthis year is really just to spread
the word about green Light and thenmeet with folks who really just have an
interest in seeing Philadelphia be the bestcity that they can be and really can
use green Light you know, asan opportunity to do that. So I
would really just encourage folks to goto our website, so we are green
lightfund dot org and then you'll seeyou'll be able to get to the Philadelphia

(08:39):
page and then my contact information isthere. So I would love to really
just hear from anybody who a wouldlike to hear more about green Light or
more about our portfolio organizations. Andthen again if there's interested in supporting our
work, would be happy to havethat conversation. Yeah, that's great.
So for those who want to give, there's Greenlight fund dot org. For
those who need help. These areorganists and nonprofits funded by Greenlight that have

(09:03):
proven success rates in all the areasthat are helping people move into successful,
life changing and life sustaining careers.And I want to thank you so much.
So once again for those who wantto know more, what's that website?
Yes, so it's Greenlightfund dot organIf I could, Lorraine, because
I know I just spoke quickly aboutthe Fountain Fund and Hopeworks, but just

(09:24):
even want to just shout out theother five organizations that we have. So
there's a Single Stop who we investedin twenty thirteen and they help with access
to benefits for college students. Thenthere's Europe who really is here to help
with you know, college readiness forthose individuals. We have Center for Employment
Opportunities which helps folks you know whoare coming home from jail or from prison

(09:46):
get access to job training opportunities,Parent Child Plus who works with families around
early childhood literacy. And then atlast, but certainly not least, we
have Compass Working Capital. They've beendoing fantastic work here in the city.
I'm really helping family build their financialassets. So just really wanted to be
able to, you know, toname our full portfolio. And then this

(10:07):
time next year we will have anotherorganization here in Philly to talk about.
So super super thrilled about that fantastic, great work being done. By green
Light Fun Philadelphia, Felicia Rainier,who is executive director, Thank you so
much. Awesome, Thanks very We'llhave more insight after these messages.
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